| | | VIDEO: A Day with the Bamboo Bar

Author / Luke Summers

[youtube width=”540″ height=”304″]https://youtu.be/NUGiZrOs5s4[/youtube]

John leads from the front when it comes to training bench press at the Power Athlete HQ gym.

Many in the functional fitness crowd have been known to shoot down the bench press as a “Functional Movement.” As John likes to say, anyone who argues that the bench press isn’t “functional” has clearly never been in bar fight, to a rock show, or played a contact sport.

As a 10 year NFL vet, John’s job was to bench press 300 lb defensive lineman 10 yard down field. Watch him put on a clinic with one of his favorite bench press training tools, the bamboo bar.

For the uninitiated, here’s what you need to know. The bamboo bar will amplify any inefficiency that you have in your bench press. It will crush you if you are not pushing “straight up” and expose points in the bar path where an athlete may allow force bleed. In doing so, it forces the athlete to find a way to stabilize.

The best way to do that is to “bend the bar” once things get dicey. It’s literally a bend or break scenario.

Share this article

Luke Summers

I am the COO of Power Athlete, co-host of Power Athlete Radio, and a Power Athlete Coach. I've been coaching athletes, training clients, and educating 1,000s of coaches around the globe since 2007. I'm a lifelong multisport athlete, but my focus was football up through college where a neck injury forced me to hang it up.

Now I'm a stickler for productivity, and have a burning desire to empower athletes, coaches, and every day people who are striving to be better versions of themselves.



  1. Steve (a.k.a. Prof. Booty) Platek on July 29, 2015 at 5:41 am

    @john and @luke wow.
    I wonder if you could comment on how you felt, or how the uninitiated felt the day after, or two days after; i.e. DOMS? What I found interesting was this is a true demonstrator of the weakest link. @luke when you went, your first few reps were spot on, straight $money$ but that didn’t last long. Unlike @john‘s reps which were flawless through every rep, yours began to degrade. This was much more evident in the other athletes, as well. Cool stuff.

    A few questions:
    1) head off the bench: Although my bench sucks because of shoulder issues, I was always taught head down, against the bench, almost driving into the bench and big arch. The head down thing never felt comfortable to me because of my thoracic kyphosis, but that’s what I was taught. Always felt like I could do more with my head raised a little. I see you all were lifting your head here: does that add to the stabilization?

    2) could the bamboo bar be used in other unstable positions: press (closer or wide grip), for example?

    Good stuff guys!

    • Luke Summers on July 29, 2015 at 8:00 am

      Doms wasn’t an issue, you tend to get reps at much less than you are truly capable of due to lack of stability. But while in the fight, you’re torched. you get the “sea legs” effect if you’ve ever spent a day on a boat, but they’re bamboo arms: it feels like your arms are shaking

      1) Head Pos: just like Denny said, its a JW preference. He (we) has earned creative license. We always have our untrained & novice Athletes maintian 5 points of contact (head down) to maximize transfer to sport, and attack limiting factors (spinal awareness). As those Athletes become more seasoned, personal preference could take precedence (Curse of the Gifted). If head position on bench is your biggest problem, we are in a really good spot.

      2) Bamboo Bar: We primarily use it for the horizontal press, but you could OHS and V Press too. Possibilities could be endless, just make sure you know WTF you’re doing, and follow the 3P model: Purposeful, Practical, Prudent

  2. Denny K on July 29, 2015 at 6:05 am

    Good shit guys!

    @splatek, there are some comments regarding the head position in the comments section of the YouTube video. It is something that John has always felt comfortable doing and Luke has just been giving it a try. I personally try to keep my neck neutral and on the bench (I just feel stronger in this position)but I know some people like to see that bar touch their chest/sternum area.

  3. Steve (a.k.a. Prof. Booty) Platek on July 29, 2015 at 10:20 am

    @denny & @luke roger that.

    Thanks guys. We/I don’t have one of these at the house (or at the gym)…might be something worth investigating.
    Thanks again.

  4. Ingo B on July 29, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    The biggest takeaway from this video? John likes Blackstreet. That’s all I could focus on.

  5. Dennis Dolan on July 31, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Where can I get a bamboo bar?
    This is an amazing tool to use with the athletes that just don’t get the vertical bar path and torque issues, no matter how much you teach them.

    Silly question, did PAHQ get a Volcom deal, not Hurley?

  6. Matt Lahana on August 3, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Hey @john

    How come you train with a mouth guard?

  7. Luke Summers on August 3, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    @dennis Volcom got some solid product placement, didn’t they? We are right next door to their HQ.

    @mattlahana JW is a big believer, lots of research on the performance benefits of closing the kinetic chain of the jaw (clenching teeth) among other things. Sounds like a great topic for the forums.

Leave a Comment


Never miss out on an epic blog post or podcast, drop your email below and we’ll stay in-touch.